Tuesday 19th January
We’ve just watched a programme about Spain and the first episode concentrates around this area and it mentions a place called Italica, we haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else but it is just 5 miles north of Seville and has the largest coliseum outside of Italy so our plan was to visit. It’s not on our maps so first thing in the morning I decide to google it and find out that Sunday is the date for the yearly international Spanish cross country race (or something) so we put Italica off for another day and instead decide to revisit Sanlucar de Barramedar. Ian and Julie, our cyber stalkers from El Rocio were about to get stalked themselves since we knew they were there.
Now I’m not saying that Ian likes a drink but… I think he was far more interested in working out how our bottle opener works so he kept going back to get more bottles. Eventually he slurred himself out and had to be carried home by the lovely understanding Julie (he told me to say that so he can go out again).
We came to Sanlucar last year and it is a really great place to be. The aire is free, could hold 200 if we all parked sensibly and is close to the lively town. Just behind the photo is the aire overlooking the Guadalquivir, ahead of us is the town, covered market and all the shops you could ever need (except for launderette, quadcopter shop and Primark). The police are coming round the aire regularly but unlike last year they aren’t making us put our chairs away. The sun is shining and we are chilling.
There are a couple of squares with cafes and restaurants, fountains and seating so great for people watching.
And the covered market sells fish of all descriptions as well as the full range of meat, fruit and vegetables.
We got chatting to a couple of neighbours who told us about the bodega visits. 11am is the English tour and to be honest it was a bit of a rush to get there in time but in the end I managed to get Lucy washed and dressed and looking half awake.
We went to visit the smallest bodega in Sanlucar, La Cigarrera. There are roughly 700 barrels here, each containing about 600 litres of sherry and it takes about 4 and a half years to reach maturity.
Sanlucar has a unique geography (in the sherry world) being surrounded by water on three sides, this gives the sherry a unique taste.
Some of these barrels are 70 years old, they are all American oak and have been previously used for brandy or whisky production. Either side of the walkway the floor is the natural sandy soil which will be watered three times a day in the summer, maybe once a week in the winter to try and preserve humidity levels.
After the tour we were taken back to the taberna for the important part of the day – tasting.
This bodega produces six sherries, ranging from ultra dry Manzanillo through to ultra sweet Pedro Ximenez.
Lucy was quite keen on the Manzanillo, it was similar to a sweet white wine. Amontillado is slightly sweeter and then Olo Rosso is sweeter again. The differences were very noticeable but by now we had drunk three glasses of sherry. Next up is Cream sherry which is what we are used to drinking at Xmas and very special occasions. The Spanish will drink sherry far more often and selecting different types with different food. Manzanilla or Amontillado would be drunk with fish, or something with a delicate flavour. Cream with red meat.
After the cream sherry we had some Muscatel which was very sweet and comparing it to the cream made the cream taste more like Amontillado!
Finally we had the Pedro Ximenez – wow. This is a very thick, very sweet sherry aimed at making dentists rich. You can almost feel your teeth rotting away as you take a sip, and you can’t take a big sip due to the huge sugar rush. Needless to say we bought a bottle of Pedro Ximenez. To be more accurate we bought 2 litres of it in a plastic refillable bottle for the princely sum of €20.90
It could last 18 months if stored carefully, I suspect it won’t be reaching the UK!
The afternoon was spent sitting in the sun with Ian and Julie, Dave and Meryl and swapping stories and drinking beer.
It rained heavily in the night leaving large puddles in the well compacted sand, it’s all looking a bit overcast so we might move on soon.